There’s a new book out about a western woman Asian man relationship and I was lucky enough to get a review copy ahead of time to tell you, my dear readers, about.
And even cooler I was picked to give away one of the free books! Woot! But I’mma gonna make you read my review first.
It’s called Good Chinese Wife, written by Susan Blumberg-Kason, and is the true story of how she met, fell in love with, and ultimately divorced her Chinese husband Cai.
The books starts with Susan, a shy mid-westerner, moving to Hong Kong, and meeting the man that would become her husband. I think their courtship might shock some people over the dryness. Like, they talk about dating and getting marriage like other people talk about the weather; without much feeling or passion. Personally I was a bit shocked myself even though I know it happens all the time in China. I just kinda thought no western woman would agree to marriage without some passion and love beforehand.
But this is where the book comes off as brave. Susan, the author and main character, comes off incredibly weak. From the dubious beginnings to her descent into total passiveness (while I was reading the book I started underlying sentences in which she said she “I was hesitant to make a scene,” or “I didn’t want to appear jealous or insecure.” There are more than 20 such marks until I gave up realizing there was too many for me to keep track of) while her husband gets increasingly abusive. While the book deals with cultural misunderstanding, all of her justifications could have come straight out of the “abused woman handbook.” It was hard to read at times, and to her credit she doesn’t sugar coat it.
You know how you want to yell at horror movie actresses to “not go into the basement?” Well that’s how I kinda felt reading this book. As a loudmouth myself, I wanted to yell at her for being so weak and passive. For instance there is one part where she is looking forward to going to an english language bookstore on a trip to Shanghai. She said she was looking forward to it for weeks, and it would be the last thing they do before they left on the train. Only, it doesn’t happen because her husband is selfish and tells her there is no time. She passively accepts it while seething underneath and I just wanted to yell at the book, “just go woman! Piss off this idiot, don’t reward his behavior!” She even admitted to the thinking that “having a child will make everything better,” which is the ultimate abused woman thought pattern. (Spoiler alert: it only makes things worse.)
All biographies are written from the future, and usually the writers recognize their weakness from the vantage point of hindsight. But Susan never did that which began to make me wonder if she even knew how passive she was being. Sometimes people reveal parts of themselves in writing that they don’t understand themselves. But of course, the end redeems it all, and I finally realized she did.
I read a lot of books about China and they tend to fall into two categories. Either the grand sweeping epic of a Wild Swans, or the lyrical poetry of a Peter Hesler book. This is neither and actually the writing is quite plain, which, I’ll admit threw me a bit. This is a small story, focusing just on her life, and not in any grander picture of China’s place in the world. But I liked it for that. And the last few chapters had me gripping my kindle in nervousness, despite knowing what happens. So obviously I was hooked.
In fact the only major criticism I can offer of this book is it is a negative portrayal of an asian man. There is a lot of negative images of Chinese guys, and on my blog I try to show the positive aspects, or how the stereotypes aren’t true. So it’s a little annoying that once again the villain is a chinese man. But it’s real life so whatchagonnado?
Did I pique your interest? Good! I don’t want to talk too much about the book itself and ruin the story for you. But now comes the fun part!! I was given the opportunity to give away a free book to one of you!! All you have to do is……
Leave a comment!
Yep, that’s right, leave a comment on this post. It’s that simple people. You can write your thoughts about the book, or asian male/western women relationships, or just write anything you want. The only rule is you need to leave a comment. I’m going to have my friend Jason randomly pick a winner at midnight on Tuesday August 12th (cause he’ll be in america visiting me then).
Also, you have to be in the USA or Canada. (Sorry everyone in china!)
And, well, I don’t wanna make myself sound like to TOTAL loser but it’s not like I got a million readers or anything, so your chances of winning and probably pretty high.
And if you don’t win the free book I still recommend you pick one up yourself. Of course I suggest that you go to your local bookshop to order it, but if you are lazy (or even sadder maybe you don’t have a local book shop?!) I’ll give you an affiliated link to the Amazon page. Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong. Go support a new writer and get this interesting book!